How to Burn Wood Piles With Diesel Fuel

Diesel fuel burns hotter and longer than other ignition sources. Wood piles made up of tree limbs, lumber and other organic debris ignite quickly with the use of diesel fuel. The fuel burns steadily through wet leaves and green branches. Foresters refer to a wood pile made up of these materials as "slash." Ignite your pile safely and follow the regulations required in your fire district's jurisdiction.

Obtain a permit to burn. Inquire at your nearest fire station or police department about having a permit for burning a wood pile in your jurisdiction.

Locate your wood pile in an open area well away from structures, decks and propane tanks. Heat and flames can damage overhead wires and underground utility lines; position your burn pile so that they remain unaffected.

Build your pile to a manageable size, no larger than 6 feet wide and 4 feet tall. Lay branches with the cut-ends to the outside of the pile and overlap them to form a dense layer. Place thicker items on the top of the pile.

Insert a handful of sawdust saturated with diesel fuel approximately six inches into the base of the wood pile and continue this procedure, allowing three feet between insertion points around the perimeter of the pile until you arrive at your starting point. Ignite each pile of sawdust.

Watch the pile until it burns down. Extinguish smoking materials with water and mix the coals into the earth with your rake and shovel. Apply a final dousing of water. The burning operation ends when the area feels cool to the touch.


Keep your permit to burn with you during the fire.


If substantial warming or dry weather is predicted, reschedule your burn for another time.

Things You'll Need

  • Sawdust or wood chips
  • Matches
  • Garden hose
  • Rake
  • Shovel
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About the Author

Truell Bliss retired from the restaurant and hospitality industry after almost a lifetime of service. An officer in the American Culinary Federation, he earned his dietary manager certification and progressed into positions as chef instructor, chef manager, dining services operations manager and finally, director of food service.